I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;
- Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
- Valley Times : Do You Remember?
- The Independent : Do You Remember?
The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.
They will also be found on this page each week as well.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.
End of an era for family car dealership
By Barry Schrader.................................October
Milt Codiroli wouldnt have fit the Henry Ford mold if he had been
around in the early days of the Ford Motor Company. It was Henry who said
you can have any color car you want as long as its black, and he dressed
accordingly. Milt, whose family operated the Ford dealership in Livermore
for 40 years, is a very colorful person---a natty dresser, sports a Hollywood
tan year-round, and qualifies as a community activist and philanthropist.
Milt and wife Pat came to town in 1965 when he bought out Bud Gestri
Ford. Bud had operated the dealership since 1952, first at the site where
Groth Bros. has their parts department, then 1368 W. First Street. Next
Milt moved it to the 3700 block of First Street, then in 1990 to Kitty Hawk,
adjacent to I-580.
Reminiscing last week, Milt said Livermore has been good to them over
the years. The community was a relatively high income area with the two
national labs and there were no layoffs in slow economic periods, he added.
Besides selling autos, Milt stepped up to serve as Chamber of Commerce
president, two different times, and supported many school athletic and funding
programs when they were in need. His son Mark, who along with sister Denise
also ran the dealership in recent years, said his father was very community
minded and always chipped in to help when an opportunity arose. Mark himself
was a chip off the old blockhe served as Chamber president in the
1980s, was president of the Livermore Valley Rotary Club, and chaired the
Measure L campaign, the successful bond measure that funded many school
needs, plus a new city library and LARPD Community Center just a few years
Milt recalled his ill-fated run for city council, back in 1972 when
the Independent newspaper-backed SAVE (Save All Valley Environments) Initiative
was on the ballot and the slow-growth slate of candidates were swept into
office, while the business-oriented candidates were all defeated. Milt said
he decided never to seek public office again because there were many ways
he could help out in the community that was less political and more rewarding.
Since they sold their dealership back to Ford this summer Mark has joined
a real estate venture selling lots and houses in Mexico on the Sea of Cortez.
Milt and Pat continue to enjoy retirement, but the family plans to remain
in Livermore and will still be contributors to the community in any way
For the record, the new operators of the Ford dealership are Jay Gill,
president of the Livermore Auto Group, and general manager Manuel Prieto.
They will have big shoes to fill as they try to maintain the community-oriented
reputation of the Codirolis.
While mentioning auto dealers with historic ties to Livermore, the Groth
Brothers cannot be overlooked. They hold the record for the longest family-run
auto business in the valley. Dick Groth tells me that his father Theodore
William Bill Groth opened the Fireproof Garage in 1934 on Livermores
main street and they have been in business ever since. Dicks late
brother Bill died in 1987. The two brothers had bought out their father
in 1965 and now a third generation of Groths, Robin and Ricky, run the business.
They started as an Olds dealer, then added GMC truck and Chevrolet along
the way. Watch for an announcement of plans to move their dealership off
First Street in the not-too-distant future.
The weekly question about the naming of Tao House got plenty of emails,
but I will just name the first two to respond. Patty Roudebush of Livermore
and Kathy Engel of Pleasanton were right on the money. ONeills
interest in Eastern religions and culture as well as Carlotta ONeills
passion for oriental art inspired the name Tao House, which is usually translated
as The Way.
I forgot to give credit to the first person to find the name of Lee
Basnars latest book on the web last week. The winner was Max Eckert
whose mother lives near us at Heritage Estates.
This weeks history mystery: What kind of cars were the first two
bought by Livermoreans in 1903?
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551